A few weeks back, as I waited for some gyoza at a Japanese cafe, I looked around only to stop at a girl sitting on the far stool by the counter, talking to the owner. It looked like an interview. The owner was often distracted by the customers, but the girl maintained her poise. She would glance across, trying to absorb the place. I could detect half a smile aimed in no particular direction on her elegant face, only to return to seriousness when the owner came back to talk to her. It was an interesting face. I started to sketch.
I wanted to draw her like a princess, a bold but kind princess, sitting on a high throne dressed in jewels and golds. I figured that I need not draw such adornments. Her composure was more precious than any gold or diamond.
Last weekend, a couple of alleys away from that cafe, I was looking for dinner. A boy at an Izakaya called out to me. He tried to explain the food. I heard a voice in English. I turned around to see another member of their staff. She calmly explained the menu. I recognised her the girl in my sketch. I pulled out my phone and showed her the sketch, expecting her to kick me for my amateur depiction of her charm. Turned out she was pleased with it. You can travel half the world. But there is no point if you can’t make a stranger smile.